Monday, December 19, 2005

Future Schools, Draw the Curtains Open Wide !

Ski The Far Stars

So we're back to the age old question of who decides what the youth are to learn, the elders or the youth ?

My younger daughter is envious of the fact that I had a chance to take Latin, as she now battles her way through medical texts.

I think that a middle ground may be found in which a cadre of teacher overseers work with each student on an occasional basis, querying them with questions designed to have them thinking about what they want to do in the future, and what they need to pick up on now to be able to do it. At the bottom end of the scale, the economics of living off mom and/or dad can be repeatedly explained until the students get that their lives will take a real turn for the worse, if they fail to learn SOMETHING, at least the ability to read, write, and do simple math estimating. Teacher and principals should be empowered by law to expressly communicate repeatedly to both students and parents the realities of present day economics, and the need to PREPARE to avoid a homeless existence. where the only V8 in their set of wheels, will be a can of veggie juice. The global economic rat race is on, and the rest of the world is busily educating faster rats.

I think that the tools of communication now just being explored, everything from cel phones to blogs, to PowerPoint/Videos, to whatever's next out of the techno-chutes will completely reconfigure the average high school soon. The cadre of overseers can include people from all walks of life, anywhere. The student's output can be checked for flimflammery by the locals and electronic databases and AI. There's nothing more embarrassing than having an AI program come up with a question that you should have been able to answer, if you really wrote that paper.

I'm retired, but I still sub from time to time and just spent time in a school where the kids were moving all over the place, but appropriately, to different teachers with different specialities for short segments of time.

It seemed to be working very well, but this is rural suburban America, and people are more relaxed out here, usually on at least 2 to 5 acres. "We all need space," from the Wrong Trousers guy's story about the Zoo animals.

Cosmology, Religion, and Common Sense

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Here is a portion of a wonderful essay found at

Noise Filter

It is from a talk given by Niel Postman in 1990

"Now, in a way, none of this is our fault. If I may turn the wisdom of Cassius on its head: the fault is not in ourselves but almost literally in the stars. When Galileo turned his telescope toward the heavens, and allowed Kepler to look as well, they found no enchantment or authorization in the stars, only geometric patterns and equations. God, it seemed, was less of a moral philosopher than a master mathematician. This discovery helped to give impetus to the development of physics but did nothing but harm to theology. Before Galileo and Kepler, it was possible to believe that the Earth was the stable center of the universe, and that God took a special interest in our affairs. Afterward, the Earth became a lonely wanderer in an obscure galaxy in a hidden corner of the universe, and we were left to wonder if God had any interest in us at all. The ordered, comprehensible world of the Middle Ages began to unravel because people no longer saw in the stars the face of a friend.

And something else, which once was our friend, turned against us, as well. I refer to information. There was a time when information was a resource that helped human beings to solve specific and urgent problems of their environment. It is true enough that in the Middle Ages, there was a scarcity of information but its very scarcity made it both important and usable. This began to change, as everyone knows, in the late 15th century when a goldsmith named Gutenberg, from Mainz, converted an old wine press into a printing machine, and in so doing, created what we now call an information explosion. Forty years after the invention of the press, there were printing machines in 110 cities in six different countries; 50 years after, more than eight million books had been printed, almost all of them filled with information that had previously not been available to the average person. Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it since.

But what started out as a liberating stream has turned into a deluge of chaos. If I may take my own country as an example, here is what we are faced with: In America, there are 260,000 billboards; 11,520 newspapers; 11,556 periodicals; 27,000 video outlets for renting tapes; 362 million TV sets; and over 400 million radios. There are 40,000 new book titles published every year (300,000 world-wide) and every day in America 41 million photographs are taken, and just for the record, over 60 billion pieces of advertising junk mail come into our mail boxes every year. Everything from telegraphy and photography in the 19th century to the silicon chip in the twentieth has amplified the din of information, until matters have reached such proportions today that for the average person, information no longer has any relation to the solution of problems.

The tie between information and action has been severed. Information is now a commodity that can be bought and sold, or used as a form of entertainment, or worn like a garment to enhance one's status. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, don't know what to do with it.

And there are two reasons we do not know what to do with it. First, as I have said, we no longer have a coherent conception of ourselves, and our universe, and our relation to one another and our world. We no longer know, as the Middle Ages did, where we come from, and where we are going, or why. That is, we don't know what information is relevant, and what information is irrelevant to our lives. Second, we have directed all of our energies and intelligence to inventing machinery that does nothing but increase the supply of information. As a consequence, our defenses against information glut have broken down; our information immune system is inoperable. We don't know how to filter it out; we don't know how to reduce it; we don't know to use it. We suffer from a kind of cultural AIDS.

Now, into this situation comes the computer. The computer, as we know, has a quality of universality, not only because its uses are almost infinitely various but also because computers are commonly integrated into the structure of other machines. Therefore it would be fatuous of me to warn against every conceivable use of a computer. But there is no denying that the most prominent uses of computers have to do with information. When people talk about "information sciences," they are talking about computers -- how to store information, how to retrieve information, how to organize information. The computer is an answer to the questions, how can I get more information, faster, and in a more usable form? These would appear to be reasonable questions. But now I should like to put some other questions to you that seem to me more reasonable. Did Iraq invade Kuwait because of a lack of information? If a hideous war should ensue between Iraq and the U.S., will it happen because of a lack of information? If children die of starvation in Ethiopia, does it occur because of a lack of information? Does racism in South Africa exist because of a lack of information? If criminals roam the streets of New York City, do they do so because of a lack of information?

Or, let us come down to a more personal level: If you and your spouse are unhappy together, and end your marriage in divorce, will it happen because of a lack of information? If your children misbehave and bring shame to your family, does it happen because of a lack of information? If someone in your family has a mental breakdown, will it happen because of a lack of information?

I believe you will have to concede that what ails us, what causes us the most misery and pain -- at both cultural and personal levels -- has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers. The computer and its information cannot answer any of the fundamental questions we need to address to make our lives more meaningful and humane. The computer cannot provide an organizing moral framework. It cannot tell us what questions are worth asking. It cannot provide a means of understanding why we are here or why we fight each other or why decency eludes us so often, especially when we need it the most. The computer is, in a sense, a magnificent toy that distracts us from facing what we most needed to confront -- spiritual emptiness, knowledge of ourselves, usable conceptions of the past and future. Does one blame the computer for this? Of course not. It is, after all, only a machine. But it is presented to us, with trumpets blaring, as at this conference, as a technological messiah."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Fighting Spyware, Round Three

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I was able to get Mozilla and Eudora working OK. I would have thought that 1.5 gigs would have been enough to make the transition, but it needed 2.5 for four years of mail. I still have Ad Watch spyware and one other embedded in my operating system, but now I know to right click the connecting monitors icon and watch the outbound traffic. When it starts to roll, I CTRL-ALT-DEL and delete the program from memory. I'm still working on a Linux modem master machine, and converting to XP at a minimum.

The Ethnic Christian

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I finally realized I am a member of a silent, in some localities, social but unorganised group. I am an Ethnic Christian, fully entitled to the rights that all Ethnics enjoy. If not, why not ? Why should it be OK to be an Ethnic Jew, with many of the traditions of the Jewish religion and culture, and yet not OK to be an Ethnic Christian, practising many of the traditions of the various branches of Christianity ?

This the season to celebrate Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hannuka, Kwanza, and a whole host of other mid winter celebrations. The tilt of the Earth will on December 22nd begin to bring longer days instead of shorter, in the Northern hemisphere, thus making for more time to enjoy and work in the visible outside world. The opposite is true down under in Australia and New Zealand and South America. Rejoice one and all, just don't put others with different views about the possibilities of an afterlife, and any God or Gods associcated with it, down.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Boston Legal, Money Changers, and Temple

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Boston Legal, Money Changers, and Temple

I was so happy to see the show take a major swipe at the megacorp creditco's in the show the other night. According to the Bible, if I recall correctly, Jesus drove the money changers from the temple. It would seem that they have taken up shop in South Dakota, where the legislature, in order to get more commerce, let them selves be bribed into voting for 29.9% interest as an OK amount to arbitrarily charge people whose check may have gotten lost in the mail, once in 5 years. Headquarter your bank in South Dakota or Delaware, and charge rates that will bankrupt the poor of the country. Eventually the Chinese will buy us out, then where will the US exec's be???

I went to look up the chapter and verse of this in the "textbook" "The Bible and Its Influence" by Schippe and Stetson, but by gum they don't have money changers or any thing about Jesus driving them from the temple. Could it be that those who bankrolled this book had anything to do with that deletion? The rich of the country run the press so that it is a distraction, and not a call for action and change. Some AM radio stations are now having newsrooms "sponsored" by banks, who promise "not to meddle," heh heh heh. Based on what I see in supermarket tabloids passing off as science, I'm not suprised the rich are getting away with it.

Christmas Giving:

New technique which just occurred spontaneously the other day for me. I was in line at K-Mart getting pet food (they have the cheapest prices, a loss leader) when the lady and two kids in front of me had a credit card came back bounced. I could see the pet food in their cart too, and saw the mom who on second glance had to be grandma, and the angry and disappointed kids faces, so before anybody could say "no" I just reached over and swiped my card and punched in my PIN. Felt good, sorta like the paying for the next 10 cars on the Bay Bridge used to. try it, you'll like it. The rest of the people in line behind me had bewildered and puzzled faces, I noticed as I turned to go. I'm glad I gave them all something to think about. The boy asked me if I were Santa Claus, and I replied, "sometimes."

Effectively I gave three times, as none of us in line behind had to wait for whatever delays might have otherwise ensued, and the animals were well fed, there were some special treats in the basket...

Besides, that kind of giving is what gives the Western Nevada County its special charm. You can still drive and courteous strangers will let you in from a drive way.
People stop and help. Many of the fire departments have major volunteer staffs. The Ladies Relief Society raises cash and distributes it to other non-profits, nobody has to go for the glory and grand-standing. People smile and say hello. It's just plain pleasantly different from the Bay Area. Everybody usually does at least two jobs, often both part time, one of which would be "beneath their station" elsewhere. So there you go, a common phrase here, where right and left generally get along.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I was rather hoping...

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...that a combination of Mozilla's older browser and Eudora email might give me a combination that would give WIN98 R2 machines a few more years of life, but Eudora so far is being cranky. It did not import all the messages from outlook express, and apparently did not import any of the filters. Mozilla is doing fine, no popups whatsoever, and it allows me to manage my email on-line and delete the nasties.

What has happened is that after 7 years every hacker and his brother has discovered enough holes in WIN98 R2 to drive way too many trucks through, and then back out again, with personal data. Microsoft has no interest in plugging the holes, and the vendors who sell products to fight spyware and virii find it too much trouble to make proper fixes for the holes, and so any standard WIN98 R2 machine, even one with full updates and a current antivirus, firewall, and spywall, is doomed to fail the moment you go anywhere much on the net.

I'll continue to give this a shot, but I am very close to going on to Linux, and taking my chances there.

Daffy Bubba-Louie, what a great moniker ! It fits so well, almost as good as a certain postcard image.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Force 6 Cybercane is Approaching FAST !

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Well I thought that by safe mode booting and running my antispyware products I could weather this storm. It worked the first few times. It doesn't anymore.

I thought I was fighting Mirar and then Bookedspace, but at this point I think it is something far worse. My machine is a Win98 R2 with all the updates from Microsoft for the OS. I also run Computer Associates ETrust for anti-virus. I was quite happy with AdAware from Lavasoft, but when it was unable to function in regular mode, I bought XCleaner from XBlock. It worked one go round. Then it was disabled.

I tried to start from safe mode, and was able to get them both to work, once. The next time a mysterious gray box showed up next to the AdAware box in the running program area. No title and a seach of running programs via CTRL_ALT_DEL revealed nothing more than Explorer and AdAware. It would appear that whatever it is, it is buried deeply in the operating system.

I had kept a copy of the XCleaner Install program, renamed and in a different directory. I tried to copy it on top of the now bad install copy, renaming it a I went from DOS, but when I dropped back into Windows safe mode, it still hung in the middle of the install.

At this point I will quietly copy as much as I can of my personal data files onto CD's and DVD's and just leave the Outlook Express data alone. I will then go to a new email account and notify the people I want to hear from just what the name is. This is a tremendous waste of time. In terms of being a terrorist attack, I would say the time and data lost across the country will cost the US as many lives as 9/11. If the good doctor is trying to restore his computer, who's minding his/her patients ?

My four computer scheme, non-Microsoft Windows of any flavor, as awkward as it is, looks like it will be a necessity. I'm sure the Mac people are smiling, for now. Soon to get the last 5% of the market, the marketeers doing this crap will hit their machines too, and there are far fewer Mac specialists to fix the situation.

Web TV on an HD screen is beginning to sound good.....

It's hard being an environmental comedian when

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a Supreme Court Justice is out there shooting off the left wings of all the ducks...

"Well I woke up this morning..."

This time I really did wake up at 4am from an anticipated performance nightmare, in which for some reason I had scheduled myself as an environmental comedian, and I had no material, or hardly any, and I was scheduled to go on in a much bigger and more impressive venue than I had planned. Sweaty palms time backstage.

Actually, I realized afterwards that maybe I was onto something. Now here's a niche that has not been well filled yet. I googled and found all of 27 references to "environmental comedian." Most of them were teachers, integrating humor into their environmental curriculums.

For comparison I googled left wing comedian and right wing comedian and found 159 and 738 respectively. To get a further sense of perspective, I googled "Christian comedian," and got over 30,000 hits. I'm not really at all sure what to make of this, other than it strikes me as being rather funny.....

Are environmentalists too serious about saving the world ?
Do Christians have a better sense of humor ?
Do Christians need a better sense of humor ?
It's not "PC" to laugh about environmental problems ?
This is the group that brought us "nature bats last," and that is seriously funny at least as I read it.

Reminds me of the polical cartoon in which the cockroaches all dance in a circle as mushroom clouds arise in the distance. (Cockroaches are more resistant to radiation poisoning than humans.)

Good day to you too.......

Monday, December 05, 2005

Amazing Grace, I Got Lucky !

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I just had an experience like the folks down in Australia the other night who got to see the car-sized meteor splash through the sky. Some lucky guy even got an excellent video of it.

I've been having fun with some really nasty adware, Mirar and bookedspace. I just recently bought the upgrade to XBlocker/cleaner, and it was installed in C:\program files/XBlock or some such directory. I had requested a desktop icon when I installed it, but it never showed up. So I went looking for the program using Windows Explorer. BTW, I'm sing Win98 release 2 on this particular machine.

Anyway I found the program and fired it up, and it ran once, finding those two malwares and some others, and then crashing. I restarted the machine, a full cold boot, and went back to the directory, where I noticed a new file named "_new_file.exe" I then tried to run XCleaner again.

What I saw was XCleaner, file size 788 kbytes, suddenly become xCleaner, file size 0. Suffice it to say, trying to start it again came back with an error from Win98. That other new file disappeared completely. It was just by chance that I got to see malware attack a program designed to remove malware. I've downloaded another copy, and I'm going to make a complete backup copy of it before I install it. I will then run the computer in safe mode, if that is possible. I know that mode allowed AdAware to do a complete scan/removal cycle without interruption.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Trespassing and the Social Mechanics of Blogging

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Well, I don't feel so bad now. I got hit by "booked" which rates a 10 on a scale of one through 10 for damage. Despite being given a clean bill of health several times now by Lavasoft's AdAware Professional and Computer Associate's ETrust AntiVirus, each time I start IE6, the darn thing comes back, so this is being written from Opera. The terms above are trademarks of the respective companies. This blog is copyrighted by me.

I have a feeling the Mirar's big brother is "booked." All of it is bad, bad, adware, malware. I have to compliment Symantec Corp on having very detailed and well organised information about these nasties.

Previously I thought I just had Mirar, which is considered insignificant. I don't consider rewriting my IE6 window such that I can not longer acess my on-line email insignificant. I'm sure that anyone who is handicapped doesn't consider it insignificant either. The blind are very dependent on having stable software, as they have to "listen" to descriptions of each part of the page in order to make sense of it and "see" what is on it.

It seems to me that the blind shound be able to sue under the ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act. The behavior of this "adware" is like blowing up handicap access ramps, and ripping apart the sound boxes on busy street corners that alert the blind to light changes. It is out and out vandalism.

If I have land and castle, and I put a barbed wire fence around it, and I put signs on that fence every 50 yards or so, saying, "no trespassing," I am legally entitled to have the sheriff come out and remove any individual who comes onto my property. If the person repeats, the sheriff can lock him up for a while to think about it.

As far as I am concerned, my computer should be no diffferent.

If I put up firewalls and virus protectors and ad protectors, I have said, "no, you are not welcome to come in." The amount of effort I'm expending is beginning to remind me of the Israeli's building their 30 high, 10 foot deep, wall to keep the Palestinians from playing walking time bomb.

The current state of affairs in cyber law is that if a marketeer can figure out how to fly over, tunnel under, or blast his way through the walls and signs, he/she has a perfect right to stick huge billboards about whatever, wherever he/she pleases. And if a second competing marketeer shows up, the two of them may fight and totally destroy my stuff, and I have no recourse.

This has got to stop. Legally there has to be a way of defining one's computer as one's castle, and metting (sp?)out punishment to those who, without permission, trespass.

I don't want to see the government take over the internet, but I do want to put a stop to wanton billboardism. The first step would be to review the books of those caught doing the placement of the ads. The second step would be to charge those who pay them to place the ads, megabucks. Yes, that's right, if Walmart pays Joe Cleveritas X amount of dollars to place an ad in front of Y number of faces, then Walmart pays a fine = to 10x + ($100 * Y). That should be discouraging to any megacorp.

The money goes directly to a fund to set up homeless shelters in the most expensive (value of exec's house there) 2nd home town of the megacorp's CEO, and I do mean Hillsburough, Pebble Beach, New Rochelle, Palm Springs, Aspen, Cape Cod, Kennebunkport, Crawford, etc. The home town is NOT the one he lives in to go to work from, unless it is outside of a major metro area. That would be REALLY discouraging to any megacorp executive ! He'd be hounded out of town by his toney neighbors. The shelters would need to provide FREE transportation to the to the toney new location from the nearby urban areas with crowded shelters.


I've noticed that my older daughter's cartoon has come true for my younger daughter. She, the younger, is in med school, and is blogging, and we parents and her many other friends wind up reading her blog to see what she's up to, because she is so busy studying, she seldom has time, even for phone calls. Her blogging I'm sure also provides her with relief from psychologically stress, which has got to be intense, when you take on the "save my life, please!" job. You can never know everything you'd like, and there are always more patients than there is time or are resources 4. There, I didn't end the sentence with a preposition !

I will write more on "booked" later. The sun is up and it's time to go outside. Tis the season photos will be up on in 15 minutes.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Death of America Via HyperMarketing

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I've just spent at least 8 hours clearing off some adware, a form of malware, in particular the variant know as Mirar. Buried deep on the Symantec site there is a complete listing of the changes you need to make to the registry.

8 hours of not teaching, of not working on my mini farm, of not helping out at the science center, of not doing good things for my body or mind.

8 hours wasted because some SOG (Son of a Glitch) decided to make software that deliberately and stealthly installs itself on other peoples' computers, without their permissions, despite up to date virus and spyware and adware and firewall protection.

8 hours wasted because this country cannot pass laws that make not only the developers and purveyors of this crap liable, but also the sponsors, whose messages they seek to spread, liable. Shall we also bring in the ISP's and those who hide the domain names so conveniently, who also get a piece of the pie provided by forcing people to watch their marketing ??? They all ought to be taken out and have their heads glued to computer screens for a week straight with their crap popping up in front of them every three seconds.

You take my 8 hours and multiply that across the country. The Roman Empire fell, and so shall we, if we don't stand up and say, "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

Those who don't spend the 8 hours, will quickly lose 8 hours to the maddening advertising. It's like changing a flat tire, one that was a brand new sound tire that hits a nail delberately placed in the road by a vandal. You still gotta do it, or you'll have to replace the rim, and then the axle too. And in the meantime, you'll be going much more slowly than before.

8 hours to put off Gator Gains from putting advertising into the brains of unwilling citizens. Repression via absolute unending noise. It calls for revolution.

Here's the recipe:

1 computer for email (Linux)
1 for surfing (Linux)
1 for applications (Windows of some sort)
1 as a server (Linux)

Each computer should have with its own set of protectors, with auto updating, if possible from different manuafcturers, and probably it would be nice to have hardware protection.

Only the applications machine would have Windows Obsolete/Compromised By Tomorrow Software for an operating system, and it stays OFFLINE, except for occasional talks with the server. In fact, it might be good to burn a DVD to move files over.

The rest of the computers have Linux or something even more obscure for operating systems.

I will physically disconnect machines from the outside world and one another except when it is absolutely necessary to have them connected. Jacks and ports should be on front of machines. Upgrades to OS's via CD's from manufacturers only, if at all possible. Does somebody make a sniffer that really tells you what's going in and out of your machine ? A box with a big fat switch on the top that shuts the data stream down NOW! ???

This will be my personal revolution. It is the only way to preserve the ecologies of my infosystems. And my sanity.

The internet is going the way of public television when it comes to fighting 1984 style forced programming/advertising. It is losing, slowly but surely.

The products that offer to fix the Mirar problem are just about as bad as the problem. I downloaded PC Tools when it said it could fix it for free. It identified it for free, I had already done that. It wanted $29 more to fix it, but didn't tell me that until after I had wasted my time downloading it. I deleted their program.

These products (PC Tools, Dr. Spy, etc) maintain a website that looks like it is consumer oriented, but it is really just one more way of pushing their stuff.

Went to CA ETrust, which does my anti virus, and purchased their Pest Patrol. THEN it tells me I have to uninstall my ETrust anti\virus software to make Pest Patrol work. Went to get my money back. Did so without ever having downloaded it even once. Did so within the 24 hour arbitrary limit they set. They told me another dept would send an email confirming that I wasn't using it, before they would refund.

I still don't have that email.

They admitted they knew I had never downloaded it, but they still wanted me to fill out this supposed email before dumping the amount from my credit card NEXT billing cycle. This BTW was all under Digital River Media's umbrella, Mr. Rollens(sp?) back in MN. Same group that billed me TWICE for Norton in 2000, which I was NEVER able to download, will NEVER use them again.

My credit card company says I really have up to 120 days to protest it, and I have to wait till it posts, it hasn't as yet, that may take 3 to 5 days. This country will wear out its consumers and we will not make enough money to keep everyone employed and then the whole darn thing will go down because Biggie WE SAY SO Corp is too short sighted and self centered, and marketing is KING, and it will be the DEATH OF AMERICA, if left unchallanged. Anything that makes 100 million/year certainly doesn't need the legal fiction of personhood, which is the only reason corps get to lobby for laws to line their pockets further, and to pick the pockets of the environment and the consumer. This is one of the cornerstones that lawyers laid to guarantee that the fiction of American Democracy & Relative Equality would never become a reality.

Phooey on WalMart and all the rest!

I write incomplete sentences when I get ticked off, yes, I know I do.